Making your own vanilla extract is so easy and delicious that you will wonder why it has taken you so long to finally jump on board. With just a few ingredients and a few minutes of prep time, you will have a vanilla extract that is far superior to what you can purchase in stores, and you’ll save some jingle in your pocket. The only downside is that you have to wait awhile to get a great flavor, so plan ahead!
As simple as it is to make, there are still a number of things you can do to get a unique and tasty flavor.
Types of Vanilla Beans
The main types of vanilla beans that you will find are Bourbon or Madagascar. These have the classic vanilla flavor you find in most vanilla extracts. For a different taste, try out Tahitian vanilla for a more floral taste or Mexican for a smooth smoky taste.
Types of Alcohol
For the most adaptable vanilla extract, vodka is perfect. You can also try bourbon, brandy, or rum for something unique. Try out a mid-tier inexpensive alcohol until you find something you really love. For most vanilla extract uses, you won’t be able to tell a difference.
(We did one with Jack Daniel’s and one with vodka from Atlanta’s Old Fourth Distillery. We have been excited to taste the locally distilled vodka since it is made just a few minutes drive from us)
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Alcohol – vodka, bourbon, brandy, or rum
(enough to fill your jar or bottle and cover the beans)
vanilla beans – Madagascar, Tahitian, or Mexican
(about 1-2 beans per 6 oz)
Glass jar or bottle
Cutting board and knife
Coffee filter (optional)
- Slice the beans lengthwise and split the pods open to expose the middle. Then, chop them to small enough lengths to comfortably fit into your jar.
- Place your beans in the jar and pour the alcohol in. Be sure to fill the jars high enough to cover the beans entirely.
- Leave the jar to infuse for at least one month. The larger your jar is, the longer you should wait to use. Keep the jar in a cool dark place. Shake the mixture occasionally and taste the extract when you think it’s ready.
- Strain the extract. Use the coffee filter to pour the extract through to filter out all of the small particles the bean pods will leave behind. This is optional, some like to keep the beans pods in the mixture to increase the flavor and continuing to refill with more alcohol.
If you filter and remove the pods, the vanilla beans are reusable. It will just take a bit longer to get a stronger flavor after each use. Kristyn and I are excited to take on another little change around the house, adding it the homemade list.